Watching many of my friends have their children ahead of me gave me a reasonable understanding of feeding in the first year or so. Some found it easy but some were heartbroken when they couldn’t breastfeed. Some liked using a bottle while some persevered through a lot of pain and angst before finally stopping.
With this in mind I decided to be pragmatic. I would give it a go but if it got too hard I’d stop, sooner rather than later, as I didn’t want the pain. I firmly believe that as long as they get food, I don’t care where or how they get it.
We had a good birth in many ways, but it was also traumatic. I lost over 2L of blood and we had an extended stay in hospital. Despite an iron transfusion and a couple units of blood, my milk took nearly a week to start flowing and when it did there wasn’t enough for my hungry (big) wee man. We started him with a combination of formula and breastmilk because, after 4 days, he became severely dehydrated. We used a tube slid down the side of the breast and into his mouth as he sucked. Although this was often slow and fiddly, we had more success than with syringes and bottles which we also tried.
The best support in this time was my husband (100% amazing and hands on), my midwife, and the staff at the hospital. I was referred to a lactation consultant (useful) around day 4 due to the blood loss. The hospital staff were amazing and my experience of an extended hospital stay exceeded expectations. I was told I was a chill mother and that this helped. So my pragmatic nature paid off, great!
Going home was actually hard, leaving behind the support that you could call upon if needed at the hospital, but I did love seeing my own bed again.
We continued using a tube and breast combo once we were home. I made lactation cookies, smoothies and drank herbal tea. I used a pump too, to try to boost my supply. After seeing how diligently I had been trying all of this without success, my midwife suggested domperidone (a drug) so we tried that too.
In this time we saw the doctor at 6 weeks and was referred to another lactation consultant. They asked a lot of questions, checked how he was feeding and concluded that the blood loss was the reason my supply hadn’t caught up yet. So I continued with the cookies, smoothies, tea, drugs and pumping.
Finally, sometime after 2 months my supply began to catch up. He was having less and less formula, until finally none. It was great! Mostly I had got sick of the sterilising and the tube was becoming difficult. He is now 4 months old and fully breastfed. We feed on demand rather than a schedule and he is happy feeding out and about. He loves the breast; it is his happy place.
Another key area of support was connecting with other new mums and being able to share and support each other. Everybody has a valid journey to share, big or small. It was important in realising we are all different and babies are variable!! It was key to celebrate success and to not compare.
Good luck with your journey, wherever and however you complete it.